13 May 2005 | Mark-129
Old School Flash Gordon
I watched this film for the legendary Polly Shang Kuan, but was surprised to find the film to be much more entertaining and effective than I expected.
The opening, colorful costuming, story and pace is mounted in the fashion of a Flash Gordon Saturday cliffhanger serial, and this, a year before Star Wars.
The complicated story involves the military conquest of a peaceful island-nation by an evil despot and his sorcerer ally. His victory leaves the island's three heroic protectors dead, but, their young children are hidden away to grow to adulthood with different identities, unaware of their heritage, in hope that, in time, they might challenge and defeat the evil ruler. The charming Polly Kuan stars as one of these children who has been adopted by the conquerer himself, initially as an insult to the defeated hero, later as his protégé.
Truthfully, the acting and martial arts are not outstanding, but, the story, as presented, has the qualities of a much better film. Even with the poorly done and over the top English dubbing, every once in a while, character driven elements, including humor and pathos are on display. The finale, in many ways, reflects George Lucas's Return of the Jedi, but is more effective on certain levels then the Star Wars effort. From me, that's saying a lot.
I'm not saying this is a very good film, it's not, but there are a few great ideas on screen that would soon be fully realized in the bigger budgeted films of the '80s.
Well worth your time!